The Houston Astros are in good shape following their victory in ALDS Game One.
The boys are back in town. The Houston Astros stepped up in a big way on Monday, looking very much like the team that won a World Series title and came just a few outs away from a second. The offense, which had struggled for long stretches of this 2020 season, erupted in a 10-5 victory in ALDS Game One.
Teddy Roosevelt said to speak softly and carry a big stick, but Carlos Correa only follows half of that advice. He’s spoken loud and clear at times this season, including after the Astros swept the Twins in the Wild Card round. But he backed it up, launching two home runs among his three hits and driving in four runs.
George Springer went 4-for-5 with an RBI, Alex Bregman homered, and Jose Altuve had a pair of hits including a clutch two-run single that put the Astros on top in the sixth inning. Lance McCullers labored through four-plus innings while allowing five runs (four earned), and as a result the Astros faced deficits of 3-0 and 5-3 in the first half of the game.
But the offense was relentless, chasing Oakland ace Chris Bassitt after four innings and then torching the A’s vaunted bullpen. After scoring only two runs against Oakland relievers in 10 regular season games, the Astros scored seven times off this ‘pen, with four of those runs following a key two-out error by shortstop Marcus Semien.
The Houston bullpen, which looked to be the team’s weakness, tossed five hitless innings, silencing an Oakland lineup that hit three homers off McCullers. It was an emphatic statement by this team that they’re not just going to roll over in the face of adversity and almost nationwide hatred.
As we noted in our preview, Bassitt was far and away Oakland’s best starting pitcher this season. The A’s have some talented and intriguing arms, but they were lacking on results in the rotation. The fact that the Astros have won this game sets them up quite nicely moving forward, as they’ll throw Framber Valdez out there today, who’s been their most consistent starter all year.
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The bullpen is still in good shape as well despite throwing five innings. Enoli Paredes, who threw two scoreless frames, is probably the only reliever who won’t be available today. Ryan Pressly threw only seven pitches and Blake Taylor threw 10, so they should be fine if needed in Game Two. Dusty Baker squeezed an inning out of Cristian Javier, who’ll probably be lined up to start a possible Game Five.
The lineup, meanwhile, is just about clicking on all cylinders. Even though they didn’t have a good line in the box score, Josh Reddick and Martin Maldonado still had some productive at-bats, with Reddick reaching on that error in the sixth and Machete keeping it moving with a first-pitch single. Yuli Gurriel just missed hitting a home run, and Michael Brantley shook off a rough day to notch an RBI single later in the game.
This series is far from over, of course, and the A’s won’t go quietly. But the Astros won the game started by the opposing ace and had success against their ridiculously good bullpen. The fact the offense is humming and the pitching staff is in good shape bodes well for their chances to finish off this ALDS.